Monday, June 27, 2011

Making a Difference

Marybeth from the Detroit Area Diaper
Bank and her son receive a check from 
our Summer of Sharing. 
We’re often asked to describe the difference between a credit union and a bank.

It’s a good question because on the surface, they might seem the same. Credit unions and banks offer similar services, such as checking and savings accounts, loans and mortgages. They’re both federally insured and equally safe. Yet despite the obvious similarities, there are very important differences. Credit unions offer specific advantages not available at banks.

First, credit unions such as Community Financial are non-profit organizations owned by the members. Therefore, instead of profiting for shareholders and investors, the credit union returns profits to its members in the form of lower loan interest rates and higher dividends. Fortunately, becoming a member is as simple as opening a $5 savings account.

“We offer the same services as big banks, like low-cost checking, online banking and auto loans,” explains Bill Lawton, Community Financial CEO. “Credit unions also offer special, personalized service to the community.”

Supporting the local community is another important advantage of choosing a credit union. Currently, Community Financial is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a “Summer of Sharing.” The credit union is donating $1,060 every day for 60 days to support local charities, community groups and school groups. Learn more and nominate a recipient at summerofsharing.org.

Selecting a credit union versus a bank is up to you. Choosing Community Financial brings the added benefit of knowing your choice will benefit you and your community. For more information, visit one of our convenient locations or call us at (877) 937-2328 and we’ll be happy to assist you.


Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Success on a Budget

Do you have a spending plan for yourself or your household? If yes, then you’ve made a smart move that more Michigan residents would be wise to follow.

Currently, only 67% of Michiganders have spending plans, according to a recent MSU study. Among those who have plans, most never change them despite facing unemployment or other economic difficulties.

If you don’t have a spending plan, now is the time to create one.  Budgeting is beneficial during good times and critical during tough times.  Fortunately, preparing a budget can be relatively easy. Here are a few quick tips.

Make sure you know how much you’re actually spending each month. Create a list of expenses, and if you’re not sure how much you spend on casual items like coffee, snacks and dining out, try keeping a log for the month. You might be surprised how fast these purchases add up.

Take advantage of online tools to help organize your finances.  For example, Mint.com offers a free and easy to use budgeting tool. Also recommended by Consumer Reports are Buxfer.com and Geezeo.com.

Remember to include savings and emergencies in your budget. Setting aside a little of each paycheck in a separate account will help you prepare for the future.

Once you create your budget, monitor and adjust it regularly, recommends Professor Lisa D. Cook with MSU’s Department of Economics.

Budgeting is also a good way to teach children to manage money wisely, and helpful resources are available for young adults, such as BrassMagazine.

Most important is to start now, and Community Financial can help. To open a savings account, visit one of our convenient locations or call us at (877) 937-2328 and we’ll be happy to assist you.



Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tips for Surviving Summer Gas Prices

Summer is a beautiful time to be in Michigan! We know many of our members travel up North to cabins, lakes and weekend getaway spots. With the summer travel season approaching fast, many economic experts are warning that gas prices may rise past $4 or even $5 a gallon. This increase in gas prices may hurt your travel plans.

To help lighten this burden for you, Community Financial has a few practical tips to ease your pain at the pump.

Drive efficiently. Speeding, rapid acceleration and excess braking waste gas. The US Department of Energy claims that avoiding these habits may help save 5-33% of your gas or about $.19- $1.25 a gallon. Driving efficiently can also mean driving safer.

Take care of your car. Keep your engine properly tuned, keep your tires properly inflated and use the recommended grade of motor oil for your car. These measures can all help you improve your vehicle’s gas mileage.

Conserve transportation. Carpooling, bike riding and simply driving less are all environmentally friendly options to help decrease the amount of gas you purchase.

If despite these efforts your vehicle still gets poor gas mileage, you may decide it is time for a new car. Community Financial can help. We have great loan rates available to help you purchase another vehicle. Right now we’re offering new auto loans of 2.99% APR* with no application fees. We also offer flexible repayment terms up to 84 months.

Community Financial makes getting a loan as easy as possible! We offer online banking access and a .25% rate discount when payments are automatically deducted from your Community Financial checking account. To learn more about our great loan options, stop by, log on or call Community Financial today.

Read more about the US Department of Energy’s gas recommendations.

Disclosure: *Quoted rates are based on 48 month term and include a .25% rate discount when payments are automatically deducted from your Community Financial checking account. New car loan payment example assuming: A $20,000 vehicle with 20% down, an excellent credit score, a 48 months term and a 2.99% APR would result in monthly payments of about $380.63. Rates vary and are dependent on individual credit history and other factors including: model year, loan amount and term.


Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home Improvements: When it’s Time to Hire a Professional

By: Mark Evenson, Plymouth Branch Manager

My wife and I needed to do some landscape work for our home. I made the mistake of trying to do it myself instead of hiring a professional.  I ended up doing more damage than good. 

I thought it was going to be easy. We ripped out 18 bushes and needed to remove 10 yards of rock and dirt.  I tried to dig out the rocks with a shovel but realized I needed something biggerand rented a bobcat.

Mark Evenson, Plymouth Branch Manager


It was my first time using a bobcat. I ended up ripping a six foot tall lamppost completely out of the ground. 

I learned my lesson.  I needed a professional to help me.  Sometimes hiring a professional can be costly. Fortunately, home improvements are a worthwhile investment that Community Financial can help finance.

For major home improvements consider one of these options:

            Home Equity Line of Credit. This has a low variable rate based on the current prime.  It is a replenishing line of credit that you can draw against as needed simply by writing a check.  Interest may be tax deductible and it has an interest-only payment option. 


Home Equity Term Loan. This has a fixed rate with a set term.  It’s best for larger projects; funds are taken all at once and your monthly payments are set.  Interest may also be tax deductible.

No Equity Home Improvement Loan. A great option for homeowners who may not have equity in their home. This loan has fixed rates and terms up to 48 months.

Also, a Community Financial Platinum Visa® is a great way to finance smaller do-it-yourself projects. Community Financial is your local expert that can run the numbers and help you decide the best way to finance your dreams.

At our house, we cleaned up the mess and our house looks great.  But I learned my lesson to hire a professional for future home improvements. If you have any questions or concerns about home financing, please contact Community Financial at (877) 937-2328.  We will be happy to assist you.  



Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Congratulations Graduates! Now how are you paying for college? Read on…

By: Karen Alexander,
Community Financial Education Partnership Coordinator


Its graduation time and high school seniors have been anxiously waiting for it all year. Their lives will change dramatically if they are going off to college in the fall.  Here are a few things they need to think about before they go.

Your #1 Goal is to Graduate with as Little Debt as Possible: 
Today many college students graduate with significant student loans; as much as $200,000.  This debt is permanent and may take decades to pay off.  You need to understand student loans cannot be discharged by filing bankruptcy; the only way you can get rid of this debt is by paying it off. A great rule of thumb: Don’t borrow more than your anticipated starting salary after you graduate.

Not all Loans are Created Equal:
Grants, Scholarships and Federal Work Studies are great ways to pay for school, because you do not need to pay them back.  But if you need student loans in order to afford college, the best deals are federally subsidized loans.  There are also unsubsidized federal loans and private loans but these are more expensive.  To see what you qualify for, you’ll need to fill out a FREE FASA statement annually at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.   Do this even if you do not think you’ll be using loans – schools look at these when awarding scholarships too.  Be careful to only borrow the amount you need and you should avoid using credit cards to pay for school.

Consider going to a community college for 2 years first.  You can save as much as 98% over going to a state college.  If you decide to go to community college, contact the school you plan to transfer to and make sure your credits will transfer. You will avoid wasting money and re-taking classes at your next school.

Commute to School:
If you have the option to commute, you can save thousands on room and board.  It is expensive to live on campus; on average, you will save $9,800 a year. 

Work on Campus:
Working on campus will give you some additional spending money, and as long as you manage your time, you should be able to maintain high grades.

College is an exciting time in the life of all young adults.  Make the right choices so you’re not paying for it decades after you graduate!  Good Luck!

For further reading, please check out the following articles:





Posted by: Karen Alexander, Community Financial Education Partnership Coordinator.

Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
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